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DfE Workforce Strategy: One year on

Little boy close up

By Michael Freeston

The DfE’s Early Years Workforce Strategy (2017) aimed to support the development of a well-qualified workforce with the appropriate knowledge, skills and experience to deliver high quality early education and childcare for young children.

At the time I wrote that to deliver the strategy the Department must offer operational detail identifying success criteria, targets and milestones to meet their worthy aspirations.

Whilst no implementation roadmap was produced, credit must be given with regards to many of the developments that have been carried forward.

The revised level 2 qualification has been drafted, consulted upon and is due to be launched in 2018/19. Similarly the SENCO qualification, skills, knowledge and expertise of the staff who support children with additional needs will be available from September 2018 as promised.

Underpinning both these developments is the publication in June 2018 of an occupational map outlining to employers and practitioners the rewarding career pathways the sector offers.

DfE worked closely with sector experts to develop these products. Similarly in the extension of the teaching schools network and extending the Fatherhood Institute’s network to support male workers, close DfE cooperation with sector bodies has seen considerable progress made.

Less progress has been made on the more strategic commitments.

Consultations on whether Early Years Teacher graduates can lead nursery and reception classes in maintained schools, if Qualified Teacher Status should be granted to them and how to attract more early years graduates into disadvantaged areas have not materialised.

Similarly few in the sector would argue that recruitment and retention challenges have eased.

This may reflect a lack of policy focus; it should be noted we are two Ministers of State on from Caroline Dineage who published the document.

Also many of the challenges considered in the strategy, are not within the gift of DfE to deliver.

Low pay and low status issues can only be addressed at Treasury and wider society levels to recognise the professionalism and importance of the workforce in supporting future generations’ early development.

This has also been published in Nursery World.


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